Government should come to grips with the risks posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies on the creative sector, which includes musicians and actors.
This is the view of KwaZulu-Natal performers, who rejected the Performers Protection Amendment Bill, meant to protect the interests of those in the creative industry against piracy and other forms of exploitation.
Addressing MPLs during the KZN Legislature debate on the Bill on Thursday, the legislature chairperson of the economic development and tourism committee, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, said KZN performers who attended public hearings organised by the committee objected to some aspects of the Bill.
ALSO READ | Performing artists very worried
“The artists felt that the Bill did not attend to their grievances,” he said.
Developed by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Performers Protection Amendment Bill, alongside the Copyright Amendment Bill, was the government’s response to the plight of artists, many of whom die poor despite having produced artistic material consumed by millions of people across the globe.
Among other things, AI technologies have the capability to recreate the voice of a singer. As things stand, South Africa has no laws to protect artists who fall victim to AI technologies.
According to the artists, AI represented an immediate danger, and yet the Performers Protection Bill, which the artists say was badly written, was silent on the matter.
“The bill as it is doesn’t protect the work of the creatives; it exposes them to exploitation,” Ntombela said.
The two bills were sent by national Parliament to the KZN Legislature for consideration. While members of the KZN Legislature were not part of the National Assembly deliberations on the measures, the provincial legislature, however, does have an influence on Parliament’s decisions over the matter.
Through the KZN Legislature, members who have been deployed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have a say on the two bills.
During Thursday’s debate, the KZN Legislature resolved to instruct its representatives in the NCOP to abstain when the bills are put before Parliament’s second house for voting. This was after all the political parties represented in the KZN legislature, except the DA, resolved to abstain from voting on the two measures.
The DA resolved to vote against the two bills. DA KZN Legislature chief whip Imran Keeka said the legislature’s third biggest political party had no option but to vote against the two bills.
“This on the basis that they are fundamentally flawed and do not go far enough to make a real difference to the lives of those they seek to protect.
“Legislation that should give the parties greater control over their intellectual property — and the ability to receive fair compensation for performances — has essentially been rehashed and butchered. The newest iteration of both the bills is rejected by the DA.
A united stand against poorly-worded, out-of-sync legislation must be upheld in KZN
Last week, artists opposed to the two measures marched to the Gauteng Legislature in protest against the two bills. Renowned singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka warned that signing the two bills into law would create a “disaster”.
“Let’s fix it now … and I would have wished for the president and Parliament to have included us when this Bill was written,” she said.